Understanding The Causes Of Arthritis In Cats And Dogs


If your cherished cat or dog is limping, moving slowly, or walking stiffly, they might have arthritis. It's crucial to take them to the vet for a proper diagnosis, as understanding the cause can be helpful. Unlike humans, where arthritis can sometimes occur without an obvious reason, pets typically develop 'secondary' arthritis due to another underlying issue.

Getting Older

As pets age, they, like humans, start to show signs of wear and tear. The body becomes less capable of repairing damage efficiently. In arthritis, this wear and tear leads to the deterioration of cartilage, leaving the joint without its natural protective cushioning.


Damage to joint bones or cartilage, such as fractures or sprains, can lead to arthritis. Dogs, especially, should avoid jumping on and off high places. Old injuries can also cause arthritis as they age, so it's crucial to have any joint injury treated by a veterinarian promptly.

Joint Abnormalities

Congenital joint defects, like hip dysplasia, can make animals more prone to arthritis, though they are distinct conditions. Hip dysplasia involves an abnormal hip socket formation, leading to joint misalignment. This misalignment stresses the joint incorrectly, causing cartilage deterioration.

Immune System Disorders

In rarer cases, arthritis can arise from an autoimmune condition. Here, the immune system mistakenly targets the joints, leading to painful inflammation and the gradual erosion of protective cartilage. This type of arthritis, known as Immune-mediated polyarthritis (IMPA), typically affects multiple joints simultaneously. With proper treatment and care, arthritis can be managed, allowing your pet to maintain a comfortable and active life.


Septic arthritis is a form of arthritis that can impact dogs and cats at any age. It happens when a joint becomes infected due to a wound, bite, or bacterial infection spread from another part of the body. This results in severe, localized inflammation that can cause permanent damage if not treated promptly. Even after the infection and septic arthritis are resolved, many animals may develop osteoarthritis in the affected joint.


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